Work Block 2 – Mental Health Literacy in Childhood and Adolescence

In this workgroup three sub-projects will examine Mental Health Literacy, each one with a different focus on children of parents suffering from mental disorders.


  • NePP – Needs for Primary Prevention in Families with Parents Suffering from Mental Disorders
  • PROVIDER-MHL – Parents Suffering from Mental Disorders and Their Unaffected Children in Municipal Child and Youth Services. A Multi-level Survey on Professionals’ and Providers’ Skills
  • TEACHER-MHL – Health Promotion for Children of Parents Suffering from Mental Disorders. Assessment and Promotion of Teacher-specific Mental Health Literacy.


Children of parents suffering from mental disorders represent one of the populations at highest risk for developing mental disorders. In Germany, it was estimated that over 3 million children and adolescents experience at least one parent with a mental disorder every year. The quality and severity of psychological and social stress factors result from the burden that children have to endure when parental disorders become apparent. The psychosocial burdens in everyday living are significantly contributing to the higher mental health risks in the target group, for example stigmatization, isolation, care deficits and parentification. Children of parents suffering from mental disorders are usually not considered as family members who may require support or the children’s problems are neglected due to parental concerns of child abduction. Therefore, knowledge is needed about required structures in the community and about the processes of assistance to promote mental health literacy. Further, little is known about the specific needs of families with parents suffering from mental disorders.

Expected outcome and benefits

The increasing burden of mental disorders in adults has become one of the most important risk factors for their offspring. Mental health literacy is a key factor to promote mental health and prevent mental disorders. Promoting mental health literacy based on the needs of burdened families is a unique opportunity for health promotion and primary prevention for offspring at risk. The three subprojects will examine Mental Health Literacy with different focuses to have the possibility to improve needs-orientated mental health literacy in both families and professionals.